Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Your Priorities, My Priorities

As some of you may remember, I wrote an article for Jaguda.com back in the day on my views about moving back to Naija. As expected, a lot of people tensioned my life for stating that I consider America to be home and love living in this country. Years later, that view has still not changed.

I was recently talking to a U.S. based someone who was championing the case for moving back to Nigeria. Per the typical argument, he said “there is money to be made in Nigeria” and how levels really dey. According to him, an annual salary of $150,000 for a U.S. resident is “rubbish” after paying all your bills and taxes. Odiegwu. I said “rubbish kwa? That’s a very strong word o”. I had to bite my tongue cos the next thing coming out of my mouth was going to be "Have you ever encountered $150k in your life sef?" but I said let me chill for guys. Nigerians sha. Just be yarning real opaks to prove some non-existent points. As in, 150,000 annual salary never reach me finish and I’m still able to pay my bills, save money, and live a pretty comfortable life so for one to say that $150k is rubbish so we need to move back to Nigeria where there is real money to be made is some real bullshit. I agree that there is money to be made in Nigeria, but that is an entirely separate argument that should not involve bashing people's annual salaries in the USD. Voltron force has spoken.

That shenanigans aside...besides this recent conversation, I have had a lot of discussions with people who champion the move back campaign with the magic words – “There is money to be made in Nigeria”.  I used to know this guy who went to college here and then moved back to Naija some years ago. So post-move, he visited Yanks and I have to give it to him, he was looking like a fresh Lagos Island bigz boiz and exuding the corresponding swag. During our meet-up, one of the first things that he said to me was “You guys are struggling with 9-5 jobs in this country? Move back home, there is money to be made”. I said “I’m cool. If all of us move back home, we will finish the money for una na”. Abi no be so? They will all be shouting move back, move back, instead of them to be happy that we are allowing them gather all the money while we "suffer" in obodo oyibo. Might I add that he was able to quickly make his own money because his father is a rich man in Lagos with connects? Uhn uhn…

However...I am not blind to the fact that people seem to be balling in Nigeria (or at least have packaged themselves well enough to give that impression). You look at these event red carpet pictures, and everybody and their mama is carrying $1100 Celine handbags like Celine handbags is agbalumo. High end brands like Louboutin, Prada, Chanel, just full ground anyhow like it’s nothing. Now even Bentley has turned into pure water, and all the celebrities are buying Bentleys. To add to all of this, every other day on Linda Ikeji’s blog, there are posts about people dropping millions of naira for Range Rovers and all kinds of shiny SUVs. Trust that I do not doubt that there is money in Nigeria and some people’s pepper has seriously rested. Even on the “small scale” level self, someone that my friend knew came to America on a 3 week vacation and she brought $6,000 shopping money along with her. When my friend gisted me, I was like hohohoho! Where did it even begin to reach me that I would carry $6,000 for a shopping expedition to a foreign country? When I still have outstanding student loans, a car note and rent to pay?? That one surely fly pass me o, I ain't even going to front.

But even with the car note, student loans, taxes and all the obligations that I face as resident of the US of A, my complaints are minimal and I still love living in America. I acknowledge that I will probably never get to the Lagos or Abuja big babe level and I’m okay with it. I do like my relatively simple life and am not particularly driven to move back home and strike it big. Some may see this mentality as settling for less where I can be living a bigger and more ballerific lifestyle back home and they certainly are entitled to their opinion. See as I just listed student loans, rent, and a car note?… some people aren't here for that. Like the person that bashed the $150,000 annual salary pointed out, people making the big bucks back home are paying serious cash down for cars and eliminating debt with the scribble of a pen over a check (or cheque in Naija/Britico speak). When Linda Ikeji bought her 8 million naira SUV, I quickly pulled out calculator to see the USD equivalent and I had to mentally hail the babe. As for me, the ability to drop such thousands of dollars in cash down most definitely pass my power. If my Naija big babe counterparts are walking into a store and dropping $1200 cash on a designer bag, I on the other hand, would have to do a real opportunity cost assessment before I ever shelled out $1200 on a bag. So it’s all a matter of priorities and what you want out of life and personally speaking, my wants aren't on a kentro level.

That said, to people who do wanna move home and pursue the “let’s get this money dream”, I’m not even mad at that. Whatever works for you. I think that my biggest irritation with such people, or people that have already moved back is that they think you are crazy for not wanting to do the same. It’s all a matter of respecting opinions and recognizing that we have different priorities. Let it not be a long thing.

And that is all she said

PS:- I'm aware that not everyone that moves back home achieves the "Nigerian dream". I'm also aware that not everybody toting a Celine bag or driving a range is a legit baller...maybe they have Ariztos daddys, are involved in some shady business or something. For fair comparison purposes (because I work hard for my money), the money makers that I'm talking about in this post are the legit ones and not any 419 or arizto assisted versions.


Taynement said...

People also seem to think everyone has the luxury of well to do parents that make the move easier ie car is ready, place to stay etc. There probably is money to be made but you also have to be mentally ready. While money is the goal for most, there are a few who have comfort, security or good medical care as priorities.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice and everyone's opinions should be respected cuz reverse some people think people who want to move back are ridiculous and talk to them like they are crazy.

Side bar - Bella Naija is doing some series on returnees and I may have missed it but it only seems to tell the success stories not sure if that was the aim so if so cool. I would have loved to see varied stories that include the successes as well as the struggles.

Lohi said...

My issue with the champions of moving back is alot of them have already established family ties back home that make the move easy. I do not know anyone who moved back to actually go and start from the bottom.

While I would also probably move back in the future, I appreciate the life I have here and people need to understand Nigerian is not for everybody.

P.s 150k/yr is amazing money but when you have a family, Kids in college, Various "traditional obligations"(parents, brothers, sister etc) it is really not. speaking from somewhat personal experience.

Nice Anon said...

Our priorities differ greatly like you said and i agree wholeheartedly. As you see me so, I love Obodo Oyibo. I'm packed very well inside here. It's a place where even the "poor"fit see light, see food chop.

I think for me the biggest thing is the lack of efficient medical facilities/healthcare in Naija. I'd consider that first before anything else.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice. You wanna move? Cool! Move back and give us on BN red carpet. Me sef go hail you from the confines of my bedroom. Na small thing. Make every every dey live their life jare.

Berry Dakara said...

My thoughts are running wild right now, because I have a few things I need to say!

1. There IS money to be made in Nigeria. I have not made such money. In fact, I made more money at my job in Atlanta.

2. Money isn't everything, when you have to worry about security (just found out our family friend's wife was kidnapped over the weekend, in freaking Victoria Island). Let's just leave it at security, leaving out education, health, sanitation, safe roads, etc.

3. Anybody that tells you to move back to Nigeria has the LUXURY of leaving at will, be it on vacay or for work. If they had to stay here and not leave for 6 years, I doubt they'd make as much noise.

4. It really baffles me when I see my counterparts with designer purses, shoes, the latest phones, serviced apartments, etc. And then you ask what they do, and their answer makes you start wondering how many guys or who they might be sleeping with (IF they don't have wealthy parents, that is).

*I heard of a girl who makes as much as 30,000 GBP a weekend... :-|

5. Money, when made in Nigeria, is easily dispensable. I know that if I still lived in Atlanta, I probably wouldn't spend as much as I am now.

6. Lohi has a very good point. At the phase where you have children in college, mortgage, etc, Nigerian money makes more sense. There's a reason why expatriates love Nigeria.

7. Nigeria isn't for everybody, and it doesn't need to be forever, either. In the back of my mind, I'm here permanently temporarily :)

HoneyDame said...

God Bless you for this post!
Moving back to Naija is NOT beans and it is definitely not for everybody! it doesnt help that those with the success stories arent all that transparent in their stories, they leave a lot unsaid.

Ntete Bassey Duke said...

I moved back to Nig in 2010, it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my adult life. So far I have been blessed and fortunate. I like my life now but I know it could be better. I make a healthy living and I am able to do a little better than fine. Don't be fooled by the bags and cars; I think Nigerians go to great lengths to show off. People live way above their means and do would do anything to sustain extravagant lifestyles. Yes there is lots of money to be made in Nig but the cost of living is so high. The cost of fueling my gen and car alone per month can be outrageous. And we can put a price on that; what's the cost of peace of mind, safety, health care etc.
I do enjoy living in Nig and again there is money but i spend so much money just to make sure I am comfortable.If I could make my salary living abroad that would be perfect but atlas..... such is life.

~Sirius~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Sirius~ said...

Different strokes for different folks my dear...I would give a lot for high speed internet, an organized society where things work, constant electricity but then there's the fact I can't stand winter, my family being around me .....if only one could get the best of both worlds

I'm sure some people do, but it has not yet reached me.

Eastbay coupon codes said...

I like your blog, good luck ;).

The Vegan Nigerian said...

This is one of the biggest dilemmas facing our generation, so kudos to anyone who can give a straight and simple answer. I personally feel conflicted about the whole thing. I feel like I could make a home anywhere in the world but there's no denying that constant pull towards settling down in Nigeria. Not so much for the money even, but that sense of identity and 'feeling at home' that comes along with it. Then you think of the lack of security, poor electricity and dodgy infrastructure and *poof* you're snapped back to reality, and the question of moving or staying is no longer black and white.

Then again, I can't help but notice the amount of promotional material surfacing lately. Like, have you seen the 'Lagos: Africa's Big Apple' video on YouTube? Obviously trying to lure people back with the promise of growth and development.

I also try to imagine a life between two countries, constantly shuffling on an airplane every few months but that seems pretty ghastly. I love travelling, but that doesn't seem like much of a stable existence to me (at least in the long-term).

Thankfully, I have a while to complete my studies before making the BIG decision.

mizchif said...

All i want is for these people to show me the way ehn, shey na this same Lagos we dey.
Some are showing us walk-in shoe closet full of red soles meanwhile i work 6 days a week and i'm still on dsw looking for nine west and Jessica Simpson, this life.

Please, be not fooled, i repeat be not fooled by Bella naija posts.
Also Lagos is not Nigeria. Infact Lagos and Abuja should not even be counted when people want to start telling their move back stories.
And it's not like life in these places isn't hectic enough, but try the more remote areas of Nigeria, then you'll have a better idea of reality.

If i had to pay rent or any major bills at all from this salary i'm earning i'd be seriously struggling.
Forget the ones you see popping bottles every Friday in the club, na sign dem dey sign, some of those Ranges, na loan, plus many many other shady things people do to keep up.

So many things i could say but this is already turning to a post on it's own.

Sir Farouk said...

Mgbeks, you are making sense o. I think the question of moving back or not moving back to Nigeria has its pros and cons. I moved back last year and to be honest I moved back cos I got a job in naij, was tired of the H1 Visa hustle and really missed my family and folks. Aside from that forget those people on BN and co, na wash. Apart from some high paying Oil jobs and maybe banking, a lot of people are just living above their means. Also, nothing beats constant power, organized society, etc. That being said, I think moving back to naija is a personal choice and i think situations dictate whether one or the other works for you. Speech aside, I moved mostly cos of family, I have no family whatsoever in obodo, got a job in naij and most importantly I m thinking of politics in future so gotta start making those connections, no be so?

air-mecca said...

I did most of my schooling in Naija (diapers to undergrad) before moving to the US of A for my masters. So when someone tells me that "move back to Naija story", I simply ask them "Have you ever experienced a 6mth ASUU strike or 2wks of fuel scarcity or 1 week power outage?". Move back for what? Is your father a politician or are you a learner?. Don't get it twisted, I lived a comfortable life in Naija, but life in Naija is straight hustle to the core. Only 10% of the success stories are from pure hardwork, 30% na runz and extra-curricular activities, 30% exploitation, 5% luck and the rest can be tied to your connections and your accent. You make money, and you spend it. The Naija system simply does NOT work. Power, security, High speed internet, these things are a luxury in Naija. Money cannot buy peace of mind. There is money to be made in Naija, US, Iraq, Israel. There's money to be made everywhere! The advocates for "Nigerian Exodus" should be clear about their real intentions. Are they advocating that people move back to take advantage and profit from a system that worships "foreign degrees and certificates" and exploits business loopholes for heavy cash? Or is it all about making the money and living the jet life? If the push to move back home is for profit making only, then forget it. Is the US any easier? Heck no! Life is tough here too. People live on credit and do all sorts of craziness to keep up with the Joneses! You work and you pay bills, a vicious cycle. But irrespective of your salary, you will enjoy the basic amenities of life, just like the "rich". Please give me the $150K, I can live comfortably on it, kids or no kids! People survive on less. I don't want to portray the "angry black man" image, but the truth is simple: "You can make it anywhere". If you ask me to move back to Naija to help "build" Naija or move the country forward, I may listen. For family reasons, yes. But for monetary reasons, mba! I have LTE on my phone, why should I trade that for 3G? And don't lecture me, I'm an engineer! Daz all.

thenaijaninja said...

This particular argument happens around me and some friends every so often. The problem is that most people hardly come up with valid and balanced points. The way I see it there are pros and cons for both.

Too many people yelling "let's go to Naija" have no real plan to make money. Most I talk to just want to enter Naija, look for connects and hammer with 1-2 government contracts. Na so? The rest of the population nko? They too aren't looking to hammer abi? Ok now. I honestly feel that if you hustle as hard as you would in Naija here in Yankee you can do amazing things. I know people that are doing very well on both sides.

The other thing is quality of life. Yes they might make $200k-$1M in Naija but that money will go towards outrageous property prices, security, electrical/generator costs and other lacking amenities. Call me spoiled but I've gotten to the idea of certain things at my finger tips in Yankee and I refuse to give them up.

In the past 3 years I have known of 3-5 people that expired in Naija simply because there was no medical help for them. Sadly this happens quite often. I refuse to put myself or my family in that situation.

At the end of the day it really depends on what each person wants from life. I like Yankee. It's peaceful for the most part and functional. Am I open to entering Naija for 1-4 months a year to work as a consultant? Yeah. Can I settle and live there? I'd rather not.

MyNameIS said...

As a recently returned-Nigerian, let me break it down for you.

1). LIFE IS HARD IN NIGERIA EVEN FOR THE SERIOUSLY WEALTHY - note that I did not say rich, I said Wealthy.

Why do you think they are always escaping the country for 3-6months each year? DO you know how much psychological stress bad roads, traffic, generators, all the inefficiencies, that country of ours places on its citizens? The true ballers are the ones that can afford to escape that hell-hole for 3-6 months of the year without breaking a sweat - and the money they have is on some long things. They own their own companies and do not depend on kissing some governors ass for favors. Instead the governors and senators kiss their asses for favors.

The people that come to US or Uk for one month? They no really get money like that - Like us, they have to save months in advance just so that Madam and the kids can spend the summer in yankee or Jand. And that money they are dropping? Is shopping money for the year - when you can't find quality items at home, it makes sense to save and buy all the necessary things for the kids (and your work cloths too) when stateside.

2). Do not BELIVE THE HYPE. I repeat - DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE. Most of the people you see on Bella Nigeria do not have 10kobo to their names. The ones that do are the ones with the names you can recognize (Akerele, Adenuga, Akinbola, Ibru, etc). Like the really wealth people in the states, truly wealthy Nigerians DO NOT SHOW OFF! How many times have you seen Adenugas' kids in pictures (apart from Jide)? Do you know who the Ettas are? If Dantata, his wives, or kids walked past you, would you recognize them? What of the Okias? The Akindeles (and not the one is connected to media and hence pops up on Google)? .... All these other people you see and hear about all the time on BellaNaija and the rest? Money just jam them for road hence why they have insisted that we will not hear word again.

Have you ever heard that saying "Lagos is for Show'? Yes, it exists for a reason because Lagos really is FOR SHOW.

3). People shouting that there is money to be made in Nigeria are just ... the cause of all that is wrong with that country. People do any and everything for money there. Why do you think they can come and just spend 20k for shopping money? When you work hard for your money no one go tell you say that 6k can be invested in something that will help make sure you do not have to work as hard as you currently do when you are 50 years old.

4). I have never loved AMERICA more than I do now. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PAYING MY TAXES - in fact, I do not even complain about paying my taxes anymore and am totally willing to pay more as I make more money. You know why? I see that shit working - good roads, electricity, good schools (depending on your tax rate as that corresponds to school zones and home taxes). Even the police that I used to side-eye, I now SMILE at them (even when they do not smile back). Some of them might be racist but heck they are A WHOLE LOT BETTER than the police force we have in Nigeria. When you have tasted law and order, you do not want to return to Hobbes state of lawlessness

4). If you move to Nigeria better be prepared to NOT LEARN A SINGLE THING in your field again. Except God butters your bread and you work for one of the multi-national firms with sense. Note: Not all of them have sense. In fact a good number of them, having learnt that they can get away with murdering 1000 Nigerians as long as they settle the right people, no longer invest in their Nigerian employees. Not all of them oh! But some will pay you good money but not train you. Also please go and research how many of these firms have Nigerians in top positions (not counting the sons and daughters of the politically connected folks said company had to partner with so that the company could penetrate the nigerian market the right way/not have to deal with our horrid business/legal environment).

MyNameIS said...

5). Nigeria is a MANS COUNTRY and I mean that in every sense that you can think of. If you are female and came of age in this country (that is spent your formative here - middle school/high school through college) ... YOU BETTER SIT YOUR ASS HERE IN YANKEE. Like I told many friends that cared to know - For the first time in my life, I felt like all I was and had to offer was *the other most popular animal next to dogs*. And if you are married and used to how your family life runs here - it is even more important for your mental state that YOU DO NOT ENCOURAGE any kind of dream involving moving back to Nigeria or doing business in Nigeria that is presented by your husband. Trust me, you have a very good man - do everything you can to protect the peace/sanity of your husband, yourself, and your kids. I no go talk am twice. If you are single, please my dear do not believe that Nigeria has REAL MEN - they are all boys who do not understand the correct meaning of being the head of a home. And definitely do not buy that horrible and wicked lie that Nigeria has more options (men-wise) than Jand or Yankee. That is SIMPLE A HUGE FAT FLOATING BALLON LIE THAT NEEDS TO BE BURSTED ... there are men in Yankee and Jand - just step out of your comfort zone and date who is invested in your happiness - those who love you will not care that he is white/orange/yellow/dreaded-up

*SIDE NOTE: Ignore this advice if you are very okay with just staying married for married sake, believe that men will be men no matter what, do not care what your husband is doing outside at 2am in the morning or who he is doing it with as long as "he takes care of the home"

I can go on but ... I done tire. Thinking of that country gives me a headache.

Vivi N. said...

I feel that those that are championing moving back home already have the connections to do so. One or way another. And by connections, I'm not talking about having a relative that lives there. I'm talking about being from money or knowing someone who's from money and having the resources to make your life easier in Naija. That's it.

The whole "there is money to be made" in Nigeria is also all about connections or knowing the right people. I just feel that it's just not that easy to suddenly find yourself swimming in Naira back home (unless, of course, you're 419).

Anonymous said...

@ MyNameIs
You cracked me up with your comment. True talk dey funny sometimes.

It all depends sha. Other things to consider than men and money.

'Lara said...

I would say there is fast money to be made if you have the connections...for a move back to naija like me, I know how hard it is without connection. I know a couple of other returnees who are struggling. I made more and enjoyed my life more when I lived abroad...like you already stated, our priorities differs. As I am, I am so ready to move out of naija again because no matter how much you earn, it will just not be enough.

This post makes sense die.

Ginger said...

I usually find that statement "there's money/men in Nigeria" amusing if not irritating too. Yeah. I hear you. i spent three decades in Nigeria and I didnt touch it. next!!

Isnt it interesting that one always hears 'there is money'. not there are jobs? The idea is if you hustle - interprete as you will - you will get the lucre. Anugo m.

Wearing designer shoes and bags are not my top priorities in life but i will applaud those for whom it is. Designers must chop too ehh? :)

Didi Rose Jewelry said...

Hmm. Very interesting topic.
I'm a proper 9ja babe who has never lived abroad, only visit. For anyone who lives abroad & is planning to move back 2 9ja, I'll give d same advice I gave my elder sis who lives in Iceland & my younger bro who lives in the US: Biko, siddon there! Visit but don't move back. I don't wear designer stuff but I find myself spending 30k for every 20k I earn. Most of d cash is spent on petrol (for car & gen), food, rent, paying mumu bills & what-not. U find urself changing car shock-absorbers twice a year or more (thanks 2 bad rds) & spending ridiculous money just 2 meet up friends 4 lunch. Ordinary chef salad is 3k or more! Decide not 2 spend money & u'll find urself alone googling d fastest way to die. Only peace of mind u get is when u travel & d peace of mind is not even complete cos u'll be calculating what u spent on d trip & looking 4 stuff u can buy 2 sell just 2 get some of d cash u spent back.
Move back 2 9ja & after 3wks, u'll be crying in ur bedroom.

Ogechi L. Igbokwe said...

Hmmmmmm. The move back home conversation. My street was tarred a few weeks ago. Actually every summer, work is done on the major highways and the streets. Yesssss! That is my tax money at work.
The one wey dey dagbaru my brain is the light issue. I just 'kent'.
MyNameIs: Thank you very much for all the truths you told :D

Anonymous said...

Women are judgmental especially Naija ones.
The girl makes 30,000 pounds or dollars a weekend, how does it affect you?
Focus on the issue @ hand and stop worrying about girls who don't know you exist!
Righteous people, i hope you are virgins?

Anonymous said...

I may be old school but having lived in America for about 7 years (gone to college and worked), I still love Nigeria and living there. I actually get rejeveunated the two times I have visited. I loved my childhood, growing up, even NEPA's taking light. Can Nigerians provide more to each other (esp the govt) sure. And I hope to be part of that. So, though I know my movement (whenever it will be) will be different from America; the joy of doing something for my people will override that. I believe it will. I actually love the "ruggedness" of Nigeria. My life in Nigeria, true was not as easy hear in America. But I won't trade the lovely memories I made in Nigeria. If it is God's plan that I live in Nigeria, wow, I know it will be an exciting and great life even as life hear is great and exciting for me.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE YOU ALREADY #NoHomo. (I'm as straight as a pole.) I get all that "move back home" talk, but mehn spoon it. I like it here better.

MPB said...

Mgbeks, this was definitely interesting to read, especially since I just had that convo with 2 random babes my first day in Atlanta last week. These babes were saying how there is serious cash in naija that America cannot even step up to...how people deal in millions over there and those are even the small boys. As for me, I no fit shout. I know all the people in my family who are job hunting and trying to make ends meet, everybody's experience and connections are different abi? I love my healthcare, and no bribery life here.

naijahusband said...

My biggest annoyance is people who want to move back because they want to make money. Not because they want to improve the country. or make a real difference. Or bring about change....And that is why Nigeria is what it is today.

Amee said...

This is cool!

Sheba said...

Lol funniest comment. Best.

Musingsofjudgejudyjudy..... said...

You and I like share the same opinion on this..... and a lot of things, it seems, from reading all of your posts......